Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Korean BBQ - Cham Sut

Korean barbecue, or gogi gui, refers to the Korean method of grilling beef, pork, chicken, or other types of meat. Its extremely popular in LA and there are a ton of restaurants more notably in Koreatown in LA and in Garden Grove in Orange County.  We went with our friends, one of which is Korean, so we would have the full explanation of the meal.

I had heard a lot about Korean BBQ but had never actually been, so I was surprised to find a grill in the middle of the table. The meat is prepared at the diner's table on a gas grill that is built into the center of the table itself.

The main staple is of course the meat.  There are different varieties of meat cooked at the table.  We ordered the all you can eat so we had the opportunity to try a bunch of them. Galbi is the most popular variety of Korean barbecue. It is marinated in a sauce that may contain soy sauce, water, garlic, sugar, and sliced onions. It is believed to taste best when grilled with charcoal or soot (burned wood chips). Joo mul luhk is short steak marinated with sesame oil, salt and pepper. It is almost similar to non-marinated Korean barbecue and one thing that distinguishes from other kinds is its steak like juicy texture. Spicy pork bulgogi is also a popular Korean barbecue dish and it is quite different from beef bulgogi because the marinade is not soy sauce-based, but instead consists of "gochujang" and/or "gochu garu" (Korean chili powder) based sauce.  Chadolbegi is a dish made from thinly sliced beef brisket, which is not marinated. It is so thin it cooks nearly instantly as soon as it is dropped onto a heated pan. Samgyeopsal basically comprises thicker strips of unsalted bacon.  It has a lot of fatty areas and is tender.

My favorite was the brisket and least favorite was the unsalted bacon.  There are also various side dishes served with the mean. Among which, green onion salad called Pajori and a fresh vegetable dish including lettuce, cucumbers, and peppers invariably accompanies meat dishes at restaurants. A popular way of eating Korean barbecue is to wrap the meat with lettuce and add condiments such as - pajori (spicy scallion salad) and then wrap it in rice paper if so inclined. I had a few bites with the rice paper but preferred the meat by itself.

Cham Sut is a popular place for Koren BBQ and is located in the Korean area of Garden Grove.  We went on a Tuesday night and it was pretty packed. We met our friends there and had a great dinner.  I stuffed myself with lots of meat but left room for the ice cream that is offered at the end.  I had a cone filled with 3 scoops of thrifty ice cream. I left the restaurant very content.  If you have a chance, take some friends to a meal at Korean BBQ.  You won't regret this meal, but come extremely hungry!

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